Place to save my files

I‘m a DT-newbie and I have a question as regards the strategy to store files.

I have a very elaborated folder- and file-structure on my Dropbox. Now I‘m considering to manage all docs with DT but would like to keep my folder- and file-structure also in the future.

Question: I understood, that the DT-database shall be located on my local harddrive (not in the cloud), but could I keep the files managed by DT on my Dropbox and work within DT with Replicas only? What I do not wish is to be forced to transfer all my files to my local drive.

What is the best strategy? Are there any web sources where this „strategic“ question is dealt with?

Thank you very much,


Read about indexing vs importing in the user manual and here in the forum.

An elaborate folder stricture doesn’t provide any benefits with DT. But you’re right in that the databases have to be local. Which might cause Prunkerlass of you’re importing huge amounts of data and have only a relatively small disk.


Welcome @JJJanezic

but could I keep the files managed by DT on my Dropbox and work within DT with Replicas only? What I do not wish is to be forced to transfer all my files to my local drive.

No, you’re not going to be able to use replicas. You should be indexing only local data.

As @chrillek mentioned, you should read and understand the In & Out > Importing & Indexing section of the built-in Help or manual before testing and committing to indexing. You can also view the Help > Tutorials > Indexing Files.

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Thank you for your replies.

I‘ve gone through the respective manual section („Indexing cloud-synced folders“) and it almost sounds to me as if this is what I‘m looking for. There seem to be two issues anyway:

  1. I have to sync my Dropbox to my local drive and the local drive will then be indexed by DT.
  2. Changes in the Dropbox (e.g. from other persons) and consequent changes in the local drive may not be detected by DT. Therefore triggering manual indexing might be required.

Is this correct?


See page 54 (3.9.2 version) of “DEVONthink Manual”, section “Updating Indexed Files” where it says:

Updating indexed files: In general use, DEVONthink can usually detect filesystem changes of indexed folders and will update the indexed group in the database. However, there are two things to be aware of regarding automatic updating of indexed files.
Files synced by other applications: If you are indexing files in a folder synced by another application, e.g., iCloud or Dropbox, you may need to use the File > Update Indexed Items command to manually update the indexed group. DEVONthink does this to avoid causing a discrepancy in the data for the other application. Also, a particular process may not generate a filesystem event for DEVONthink to detect a change has occurred.

So, test on your setup and see what happens. My best advice is to ensure that Dropbox completes the sync before you re-index those files residing on Dropbox’s folder on the local machine. DEVONthink does not reach out to the Dropbox server.

Also, re-consider your idea to keep these files in Dropbox. If a reason to do so, great. But now that you have DEVONthink, as a new user, consider the benefits of importing rather than indexing files in traditional folders as they are in the local Dropbox folder.

Thank you very much. The main reason why I’m using Dropbox is that I have to share complete folders subfolders and files with my staff members. So they have access to these files.

But I will take your advice and simply test it :wink:


So, I have tested the whole thing during the night and have one more question:

  • Lets’s say I have a DT-Server licence.
  • All my files are on my local drive (as suggested) and imported into DT.
  • I sync my DB to Dropbox.

Is it possible for third parties to access this DB on my Dropbox by means of DT-Server or is DT-Server meant just for granting access to local machines?

And if not: what is the proper strategy to provide third parties access to files managed by DT if they do not use DT themselves?


Whatever sync you use: it does not store your databases. Therefore, the answer is no.

THX, but this leaves my question about the proper strategy unanswered.

After having read a lot about syncing and sharing, I got the impression that DT is simply the wrong tool for managing documents in DT and granting remote-access to these docs to third parties via the web who do not use DT.

Since this seems to be an old issue with DT, I’m wondering if the DT dev team is considering to improve this issue.


That’s an interesting philosophical question, but I doubt that you’ll get a sensible answer for it.

“Granting access” is exactly what the server edition does as the “third parties” will simply use their browser to talk to the server. What are you missing in that approach?

Perhaps clarifying your requirements might get you better responses.

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Sharing the documents in DEVONthink databases is exactly what DEVONthink Server accomplishes.


Ok, but this would require

  • a stationary machine (acting as a server) with a server licence permanently exposed to the internet;
  • the machine for me with a pro licence (basically my MacBook) for feeding and interacting the databases; and
  • the machines for my staff with just a browser.



My understanding (I don’t use DEVONthink Server):

: Internet connection only required if your colleagues are only available via internet. Local network works if colleagues are on the internal network.

: Connecting DEVONthink Server safely to the Internet outside scope of DEVONthink. Best to use experts. Many postings here discussing all things routers, firewalls, ports, etc.

: You can use DEVONthink Server via web or DEVONthink on a Mac to work with the databases. Even using the machine that serves as server works.

: Yes, colleagues only need a browser (that works with DEVONthink Server).

So there is a way to achieve what you want to do now without waiting for expecting product changes from DEVON Technologies.

Not quite: you only need one machine for the server and can “feed” the documents from that one, too.

But may be you should take a step back and think about what you need DT for. If you just want a cloud-ified Finder, then something else might be better suited (like a simple Dropbox setup or a NAS, if you care for privacy).

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Excellent points.

Like @chrillek pointed out you only need one machine because you can use the Mac used as a Server for adding content. But since every edition of DEVONthink comes with two seats you can add content from your non-server MacBook also without having to purchase another DT licence.

And by the way: While your colleagues who only have access to DT databases through a browser can do a lot less than you or anyone else who uses the app, they can do more than just read the documents.

I recommend you to extentively test the trial version of DT to find out if it is the right software for your needs. If you purchase you would get a rock solid app with a tremendous feature set, updates for years to come, and excellent support—just not a web service like, say, Evernote.

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Dropbox is where I come from :wink:, but I wanted to use the features of DT. But - as written before - it seems not being designed for online-collaboration.

The idea with one machine (my MacBook) is not feasible, because it requires this machine always being online in order to make the files accessible for my staff.

Ah ok, I was not aware of the „two seats“.

Thx to all of you!

The best solution probably would be a Mac Mini as the cheapest Mac, with low power consumption, and you could run it even without a monitor. Cheapest not meaning “for free”, of course.


it seems not being designed for online-collaboration.

That’s not quite accurate. It depends on the environment and situation.
We have many people who use the Server edition for business, academia, and collaborative work.

because it requires this machine always being online in order to make the files accessible for my staff.

Is your staff not in the same geographic location?